Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly says the government must not delay in the establishment of the independent inquiry into the CervicalCheck controversy.  Deputy Donnelly welcomed the move to set up an independent investigation, but warned that it must not be used to withhold information from the public.

Deputy Donnelly commented, “The news this morning that following an audit of 206 cases, more than 12 women have died is truly shocking.  The fact that approximately half of the 206 women whose cases are being examined by this audit may not have been told that they had a delayed diagnosis is scandalous.

“These women and their families have been failed by the CervicalCheck programme and it is imperative that an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding these delayed diagnoses is set up as a matter of urgency.

“Minister Harris must ensure that all 206 women are informed of the situation and are given all the supports that they need.  There needs to be full disclosure as to what mistakes were made; there can be no more secrecy.  These women and their families deserve better.

“I also want Minister Harris to ensure that no other family is forced to go before the courts to find out what errors were made in their care.

“An independent inquiry is the only way to get to the truth of this horrific scandal.  However, the government cannot be allowed to use an inquiry to withhold any information which it currently possesses.   We need full disclosure from CervicalCheck, the HSE and the Minister.

“Consideration should also be given to the examination of our other national screening programmes to allay the fears of people who are horrified at the revelations which have emerged over the past week. However, this should not interfere with the work of the inquiry into the CervicalCheck programme, which must be carried out immediately.

“This inquiry cannot be delayed – we need to ensure that it reports back quickly so that public confidence in this service can be restored”.